There is no shortcut for sustainability. No cookie-cutter playbook for energy efficiency. Yet while the route towards greener and cleaner building operations may be different for every asset, programs like Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) ENERGY STAR® Certification for Commercial and Institutional Buildings put stakeholders on the right path.
“In 2018, NRCan saw an opportunity to recognize top tier energy-efficient buildings in the commercial and institutional sectors by adapting the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Certification for Buildings program for the Canadian market,” says Mike Dennison, Senior Program Officer, in NRCan’s Office of Energy Efficiency.
- K-12 schools
- hotels / motels
- medical offices
- ice / curling rinks
- commercial offices
- senior care communities and residential care facilities
- supermarket and food stores
- retail stores
NRCan’s ENERGY STAR Certification program is powered by the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® platform. Available online and at no cost to program participants, the platform enables users to measure, track, and optimize energy consumption by comparing their building’s performance against itself as well as modeled similar buildings. It is also powered by up-to-date data from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use (SCIEU), which is conducted every five years to assess building characteristics and energy usage across the commercial and institutional sectors.
“The Canadian adaptation of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool is a modification of the US EPA’s proven benchmarking tool with the intent to give Canadian users an easy, secure, and cost-free way to benchmark a building’s energy use, and to generate a wide array of performance metrics,” notes Dennison.
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the gateway for ENERGY STAR Certification. Eligible building types that achieve a score of 75 or higher (top quartile) on the ENERGY STAR 1-100 score scale can submit an application for certification through the Portfolio Manager tool; however, building set-ups and data must be verified by an in-house or third-party Licensed Professional. If successful, applicants receive ENERGY STAR branding materials and entrance into the program’s online registry.
At last count, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® has been used to benchmark over 26,000 buildings in Canada, representing approximately 35 per cent of the commercial/institutional floor space.
There’s no cure-all strategy for saving energy. Thanks to initiatives like NRCan’s ENERGY STAR Certification for Commercial and Institutional Buildings, however, there are invaluable tools, insights, and innovations to spark the journey.